Zinc Deficiency And Seizures In Huskies

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Jhett Husky

Jhett
December 06, 2009 – April 18, 2014

This week I have been discussing the implications of Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption in Huskies. Today I will be discussing another issue that has its roots firmly planted in Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption, seizures in Huskies.

Whether your dogs have been diagnosed as having Epilepsy or Idiopathic Seizures, there is no more heartbreaking sight than to be forced to stand by helplessly watching your Husky convulsing on the floor having a seizure. I will be discussing what seizures are, how Zinc plays a part in this issue for Huskies, and I will give you interventions that you can use to either lessen your dog’s condition or lessen the chances that your dog will ever have a seizure.

There Has To Be A Better Way

As you may, or may not know, one of my Siberian Huskies, Jhett, was diagnosed with Idiopathic Seizure activity when he was only 14 months old. When I took him to the Vet she determined that he did most likely have a Gran Mal seizure. I had no question that he had a Gran Mal seizure because sadly Jhett was not my first Husky to have seizures. I knew without a doubt what had happened.

My very first Husky, over thirty years ago also had seizures but Misty really did not start having seizures until she was five years old. I did not start medicating her until she was the age of seven. I had hoped that I would never have to be dealing with this issue again and yet here I was, standing in the Vet’s office, and basically hearing the same few tired options for treating and dealing with seizures being laid out to me again.

The Same Old Thing

How was it that in over 30 years of medical advancements this condition in Huskies was no better understood now than it was then, nor were there any real advances made as far as solutions to this problem were concerned? Are all Husky owners just relegated to being at the mercy of this condition? Are we just doomed to keep waiting and wondering if it will leap out at our dog from behind the bushes like some terrifying Boogie Man? Why does no one offer us Husky owners any new answers or information as to what we can do to save our dogs from this fate?

I was not satisfied hearing the old tired pat answer of “predisposed” being tossed around by the Veterinary Community. Vets will tell you that Epilepsy is not a genetic condition and yet breeders and experienced Husky owners will tell you that this condition does tend to run in certain lines. So if there is no gene marker for this condition then why does it run in certain lines? There has to be some explanation as to why this happens in a portion of these dogs. And if this condition is not truly gene linked then there must be something that we can do to prevent this condition from manifesting in our dogs.

Searching For Answers

With my first Husky I followed my Vet’s instructions and medicated my dog using Phenobarbital after the seizures started happening more frequently. I really had no appreciation for how lucky I was with my dog because she only needed a small amount of this drug daily and she never had other seizures again. Not everyone is so lucky. It did however take its toll on her liver. She passed away at eleven years old but I feel that if it were not for the effects of the meds on her liver, she would have had a few more years of life left in her.

With Jhett being only 14 months old I was very reluctant to start medicating him with anticonvulsive drugs so I decided that if the Vet could not give me better answers I would have to find them myself.

And so began a 4 month long regime of looking for answers from everywhere. I read breeder blogs. I asked questions. I looked for patterns. I compared notes. I read books on genetics, biology, animal husbandry, homeopathy, and medicine. I was determined to find answers to how this non-genetic condition manifests itself like an inherited disease in our Snow Dogs.

Luckily, I have a diverse background in Science and Alternative Medicine that allowed me to have a very good understanding of these fields and that allowed me to start slowly and painstakingly start piecing together a picture of what is truly at the root of this issue for Snow Dogs. This is where I first started to make the Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption connection and to realize how pervasive and important this issue is for this breed of dog.

Zinc And Seizures

In the other two articles, Zinc Deficiency: The Hidden Cause Of Chronic Sickness In Huskies and Correcting Zinc Deficiency In Huskies, I discussed the issue of how a lack of Zinc causes so many of the medical problems that can plague Huskies.

Epileptic Seizures or Idiopathic Seizures are one those conditions that can be caused by insufficient available Zinc to complete body processes. The “end of the line” body process calls for Zinc to be present to help with Taurine ( an amino acid) uptake, which among other things, works to smooth over neurotransmitters in the brain. When Taurine cannot do its job due to a lack of available Zinc, the outcome over time is the brain starts firing irritated electrical impulses randomly and erratically. This is a very simplified description of a seizure.

In the other articles I also described how there are two major issues for Zinc Deficiency in Huskies: either there is an insufficient amount of Zinc contained in the Husky diet via poor quality food OR there is sufficient quantities of Zinc in the body but it cannot be properly absorbed in the intestine and utilized by the body. Both cases result in Zinc not being available to fully supply the daily amounts needed to complete all the body processes. Long term Zinc Deficiency is a very strong catalyst for many of the common medical conditions that exist in Huskies and Malamutes, one of those conditions being Seizures.

My Husky Had A Seizure. Now What Do I Do?

If your dog has had a seizure event your Vet will want to make an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, seizure activity is diagnosed in an odd way. The Vet will test to rule out other contributing factors for the seizures and if they do not find evidence of other underlying factors, then Idiopathic Seizure activity becomes the diagnosis. Once the seizures begin happening with some regularity (more often than once a month), then the diagnosis changes from Idiopathic (seizures with unknown causes) to that of Epilepsy. For the diagnosis of Epilepsy to be made the seizures must happen often and the episodes must be similar in nature.

If your dog has begun to have seizures you will want to start keeping a detailed log about your dog’s seizures. Document the date, the dog’s behaviours leading up to the seizure, a description of the actual seizure, and the dog’s behaviours after the seizure.

What Is A Seizure?

A seizure is a temporary convulsion due to erratic and uncontrolled bursts of neurological firings in the brain. These firings can be localized and show up in just one limb or the face or they can have an effect on the whole body causing twitching, paddling, or jerking of the limbs.

Different Types Of Seizures

Grand Mal Seizure

The most recognized type of seizure is the Gran Mal Seizure. In this type of seizure the whole body stiffens and alternatively contracts in cycles (tonic/clonic action). During these seizures the dog will not be conscious, will drool, twitch, jerk, and it may urinate and defecate. These seizures can vary in length. They can also appear singly or in multiples called (clusters) where the animal’s twitching abates and then starts again into another seizure.

Partial Seizures

This kind of seizure originates in a localized area of the brain so it tends to only involve limited regions of the body. There is no loss of consciousness, only loss of control of the affected body part.

Psychomotor Seizures

This kind of seizure manifests itself with the animal doing certain involuntary behaviours like whining, barking, howling, snapping at the air, or walking in circles. At times this Psychomotor Seizure may be followed by a full Generalized Grand Mal Seizure.

The Stages of Seizure

Most seizures follow a set pattern:

  • First, many dogs become agitated or restless because they can feel that something is not right their body and their head (an aura). Some dogs try to hide or they may seek out their owners to look for help. This stage is called the pre-ictal phase.
  • Then the dog may start to tremble. His eyes may glaze over. He may jump up and start to grimace or twitch.
  • Then (if the dog is having a Gran Mal seizure) he will fall over on to his side, stiffen and begin to paddle his legs. He will twitch, convulse, and contort his body violently. His teeth will clench and clamp down. He will salivate, snort or gasp for air, and he may have trouble breathing. This stage, called the ictal stage, will last for varying amounts of time depending on the dog and his specific seizure pattern.
  • At some point the convulsing ceases and dog starts to regain consciousness (referred to as the postictal phase). However he will not regain all of his senses right away. They may not be able to see well or hear for some time after the seizures. They will often pace, pant heavily, and seem extremely agitated and disoriented. The foggy state can last anywhere from an hour or up to two days.
  • Once the postictal phase has passed, most dogs are exhausted and just want to sleep in a darkened room while their brain recovers from this experience.

How To Care For Your Dog During and After A Seizure

During

It is vitally important that you help keep your dog safe before and after this experience. Because a dog has no real control of his seizures, that means that when a seizure strikes he will fall over and have the seizure regardless of where he is at the time. You may have to move the dog to a place where he can be safe while he has the seizure. Move him away from furniture that he can bang into. Move him to the floor so he will not fall off from furniture during the seizure. Make sure that there is nothing for him to get his teeth caught on during the seizure.

Jhett once had a seizure in his wire crate. He often ran to hide in his crate if he felt a seizure coming on. He fell over in his crate sideways and his teeth clamped down on the wire bars of his crate as the seizure struck. Because of the violent nature of the convulsions, I had to dive into his crate with him (good thing it was a large crate) and hold his head as still as I could so that he would not break off his teeth during the thrashing that is associated with the convulsions.

After

After the convulsing stops and the dog begins to regain consciousness, you have to supervise them to keep them physically safe during the post-ictal stage. Because there can be some temporary blindness and deafness, these dogs can easily hurt themselves by running into walls, furniture, or by falling down the stairs but because these dogs will also feel the need to pace during this phase you really cannot just put them into their crates to keep them safe. Barricade off any stairways and keep doors closed to keep them contained to a small area of the house and allow them to pace until they are ready to stop.

At this time you may need to administer drugs or remedies to the dog. Never try to place something into the dog’s mouth during the seizure. Your dog will clamp down on your fingers and you may be injured. It is thought that after a seizure it helps to give the brain some much needed energy so you can rub some honey his gums. When the trashing stops just lift up the skin on his lips and rub honey on his gums. Your dog may feel hot so some cold packs may be held onto the back of his neck or back when the dog stops pacing.

When the dog is ready to lie down and rest he will appreciate a quiet darkened room or crate. Bright light and noise is not welcomed by a brain that just had a seizure. Also make sure to monitor your dog to make sure that he is breathing easily and that another seizure is not about to happen. Some dogs’ seizure pattern includes clustering so they may have several seizures in a row with little or no break in between.

Jhett’s Final Seizure

While it is believed that most seizures are not lethal for your dog, some are. In April of 2014, after being seizure free for a record 89 days, Jhett had a seizure while he was sleeping on the couch. I ran to help him but instead of his normal seizure pattern he began to have back to back cluster of seizures.

He had a cluster of 13 seizures in under 30 minutes and he died in my arms. I had no chance to take him to the hospital. I had no chance to say good bye to him. I felt helpless and useless as stood by watching him have seizure after seizure. Jhett endured 33 seizures (not counting the final 13) in the 4.5 years of his young life.

Common Treatment Protocols Offered By Veterinary Medicine

It may come as surprise to many owners of Epileptic dogs that seizures are rarely completely eliminated by the use of anti-convulsant drugs. The intent of using a therapeutic drug protocol is merely to attempt to reduce the frequency and the intensity of the seizures so that a dog can live a more comfortable life. There is no “cure” for this condition. It can only be managed.

Drugs that your Vet may consider using for your Epileptic Husky:

Phenobarbital is probably the most commonly prescribed barbiturate drug. This drug can take a few weeks to build up blood levels where it is able to suppress seizures in your dog. This drug is not without side effects. It has a sedative effect on your dog and it tends to collect in the liver and can cause liver damage. If your dog is taking this drug, regular blood tests will need to done to check your dog’s liver function. This drug tends to also cause excessive thirst and appetite in the dogs who take this medication.

Owners are very surprised of discover that 20% to 30% of dogs’ seizures cannot be controlled by only using Phenobarbital. They may also need to use Potassium Bromide, long-acting benzodiazepine. This drug will may be given in addition to Phenobarbital if blood levels show that the Phenobarbital alone has not been effective at stopping the seizures. Potassium Bromide alone is less effective at treating seizures but is not known to cause liver damage though there is evidence that this drug can cause hind end leg stiffness.

It is believed that 25% to 30% of dogs who take a combination of Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide will still not have their seizures completely controlled by these drugs. If your Husky is still having seizures your Vet may suggest using some of these other anti-seizure drugs:

Primidone

A drug that gets converted to Phenobarbital in the blood stream but has more side effects than the Phenobarbital and it is more expensive.

Dilantin

Used in human Epilepsy but has only a limited function in treating Epilepsy in dogs. It works in the same way that Valium does. It is not recommended for long term use in dogs.

Clorazepate

This drug is related to Diazepam and works in emergencies when seizing is out of control. There is tolerance that will be developed so dosage will need to be constantly increased.

Felbamate

While it is low in side effects, it is very expensive as it requires multiple daily doses.

Gabapentin

This is another expensive drug that requires multiple daily doses.

Levetiracetam

This has minimal side effects but is also expensive due to the multiple daily dosing requirement.

Zonisamide

This is a sulfa class anti seizure drug that can work well with more traditional therapies. It has many of the same side effects that you would come to expect from other sulpha drugs.

Alternative Treatment Protocols For Treating Or Managing Seizures

There are many supplements that you may wish to consider giving your Epileptic Husky. Many of these can be given in conjunction with anti-convulsive medications. Always check with your Vet for possible drug interactions.

Fish oil can be added to your dog’s diet. Essential Fatty acids help with good brain functioning. Anything that allows your Husky’s brain to function more optimally is likely to be helpful in this situation. You can safely add 1000mgs – 1200mgs of fish or krill oil to your dog’s diet.

Taurine can be supplemented to help with calming down synaptic firings in the brain. You can try adding 500mgs – 1000mgs of L-Taurine to your dog’s daily diet.

Zinc can be added to your dog’s diet to help bring available levels up in the body. Use picolinate, gluconate, chelated forms or methionine forms. Avoid sulphate or oxide forms. Starting dosages are 25 mgs per 50 pounds of dog weight given once daily. These dosages can be incrementally increased to 50mgs and then up to 100mgs given once daily. Mild Zinc toxicity starts at just over 200 mgs as a one time dose. Lethal toxic doses begin at 900 mgs.

You may wish to add nutraceutical products that add Zinc to the diet like Zinpro and Nutrazinc.

You may also consider using a herbal combination like Neuroplex, to aid in brain functioning.

There are many Homeopathic Remedies that work to support brain functioning but because Homeopathy work very specifically with individual constitutions, you really should consult a qualified Homeopathic Doctor to help you choose the best remedy that matches your Husky’s presenting constitutional issues.

My long time good friend and Jhett’s doctor is Dr. Terezihna Jones. Dr. Jones has many years of experience in this field and she also teaches Homeopathy for the British Institute of Homeopathy. Many consults can be done over the telephone and remedies will be mailed out to you usually the same day. You can contact Dr. Jones here, https://www.facebook.com/ZihnasLight.

Canine Chiropractors are often not thought of when it comes to Epilepsy but due to the violent nature of the convulsions the neck and head are often out of alignment. Nearly everyone who has violent seizures will have C1 jammed up into Axis in the skull. When the spine is out of alignment it interferes with how electric impulses travel in the body.

Diet Considerations

You are what you eat holds true for dogs too. To make sure that the brain functions optimally, a good diet is a must. Foods should be high quality food, with good protein sources, no animal by-product, and no chemical preservatives.

As wheat, corn and soy, create phytates in the digestion and phytic acid binds to Zinc making it unavailable to the body, these grains should be removed from your Husky’s diet.

Make sure that you add lots of foods that naturally high in Zinc. A detailed list of these foods can be found in my article, Correcting Zinc Deficiency In Huskies.

Lastly, if you are feeding an all Raw Diet or a Home Cooked Diet make sure that you understand how to feed a diet that is properly balanced in vitamins and minerals to avoid creating a zinc deficiency in your dog. Please refer to my article, The Husky Diet: Raw Food and Cooked Homemade Diets for more information on this topic.

Prevention Rather Than Management

Once your Husky has this condition you are now relegated to managing it as there is no known cure. You can use one of the many protocols listed above to help manage your dog’s condition. You may even be lucky enough that a management protocol will be enough to keep your dog from having more seizures. However, if your dog has this condition he will ALWAYS be predisposed to Zinc Deficiency and this will make him predisposed to having seizures.

The best way to avoid the heartache of being relegated to your managing this disease in your Husky is to avoid the circumstances that yield Zinc Deficient Huskies. Prevention of this condition is crucial to having a healthy husky. If you are thinking of obtaining a Husky and it comes from one of following situations, rethink your purchase!

Prevention Of Predisposition To Zinc Related Issues Is The Key

  • The only way to prevent a dog from being predisposed to Zinc issues and for seizures is not to pass on the condition of predisposition.
  • Never breed dogs that have seizures in their lines. Scientific test breeding of epileptic dogs was done and it showed that 38% of dogs born to one epileptic parent also had the condition. And 100% of the dogs born to two epileptic parents were also epileptic. These dogs should never be used for breeding. If breeder is breeding known epileptic Huskies, walk away very quickly from the deal. No deal is worth having to manage a sick dog.
  • Never buy puppies from lines that have Epilepsy in them. Reputable breeders don’t produce poor quality puppies but unscrupulous breeders to sell these dogs. Do your homework and run a check on the breeding lines before purchasing a puppy from a breeder.
  • Never buy dogs from inexperienced backyard breeders or puppy mills. Your puppy’s health will only be as good as the health of the parent. If the Mother is fed a Zinc poor diet, the puppies are automatically going to be predisposed to having a Zinc Deficiency and all the conditions that go along with this condition. That means that when you buy a poorly bred Husky you are automatically in danger of buying a dog who will be also be predisposed to having seizures.
  • Before committing to buying a dog from a breeder, ask about the diet he feeds his Huskies. If he feeds a diet full of grains, a poor quality diet, or a Zinc poor diet, pass on buying a dog from them. These puppies will most likely be predisposed to Zinc Deficiency.

How To Spot A Husky Who Is Predisposed To Zinc Deficiency

The common characteristics of Huskies that are predisposed to Zinc Deficiency:

  • The Husky may be smaller in size than is considered normal for the breed. It may be very fine boned. This occurs because Zinc Deficiency is related to incidence of Dwarfism.
  • The Husky has constant issues with digestion, elimination, or with very poor appetite or a failure to thrive.
  • The coat is dry, brittle, or patchy instead of deep, soft, and luxurious.
  • The Husky has raised crusty patches of dermatosis around the nose, eyes, mouth, groin area, or on the paw pads.
  • The Husky has Thyroid issues.
  • The Husky has seizures.

What You Can Do To Prevent Your Husky From Becoming Zinc Deficient

If your Husky shows no signs of being Zinc Deficient here are some things to do to keep them from becoming Zinc Deficient:

  • Feed your Husky a breed appropriate diet right from the start.
  • Make sure that the protein sources in his diet come from whole meat and not from meat by-product. Use no food that is filled with chemicals and preservatives.
  • Feed foods that are naturally high in Zinc so that your Husky never falls into Zinc deficit.
  • Feed a no grain diet as wheat, corn, and soy make Zinc unavailable to the body.
  • Be an informed Snow Dog Owner. Know the special requirements of this breed to prevent problems from every happening in the first place.

It is my fondest hope that this series of articles serves to inform the public about the devastating affects of Zinc Deficiency in Huskies and Malamutes. If I can prevent this horrible condition from manifesting itself in your Snow Dog then Jhett’s condition will served a higher purpose.

RIP Jhett

As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and stories on this topic. When we share our wisdom and our stories, we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.

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41 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know if I’ve left a reply to this before.
    I have a giant malamute, she now weighs about 15 stone and is an unbelievably loyal dog, everywhere I go she is by my side.
    She has had 7 seizures, she is 5 in March.
    This ONLY happens when she vomits bile.
    She’ll try to vomit, if we can stop that, we stop the seizure.

    The vets were clueless, so our family took it on ourselves to manage it, we make sure we try to get some food inside her ASAP every day.
    If she won’t eat, we give her a little ice cream to stimulate her taste buds and to lift her blood sugar levels, this works most of the time.
    On the odd occasion where she won’t entertain anything I force 2mm of pepto bismal in her mouth via a small syringe.
    As a result of her condition holidays abroad are on the backburner and it’s off to a log cabin with the dogs.

    Hope this Can help someone with similar problems.

  2. Thank you for all the information. you have been very helpful. I have a 1 year old husky who stated having seizures a few months ago. I feel terrible for her. We have not put her on any medication yet. Not sure if we will or not. We don’t want to ruin her liver. It’s something new to me so reading your post was very helpful. The picture of your dog is beautiful. Thank you so much.

  3. My heart hurts for you and your Jhett. I appreciate all this research greatly. You turned this into something that can help prevent huskies from all over the world from suffering the same fate. I relate to this so much. My 5 (almost 6) year old husky passed away 5 days ago due to the same type of seizure activity as yours. His name was Jett, so my heart warmed when I read your huskies name. It’s still too soon now, but we would love to be husky parents again one day. I am going to take all this into consideration and fight twice as hard to make sure my baby has a seizure free life. I’m depressed and alone, he was my everything, my therapy. This article gives me hope for the future. No dog should have to just “deal” or “manage” a life with this illness. Thank you.

  4. Thank you so much for this article. We lost our first beautiful husky at 18 mo. He had medical problem after medical problem.From about 4 months of age, starting with Panosteitis ( growing pains) to a sensitive system. And eventually seizures and ultimately heart failure. And of course my vet had no answers for us except “It just happens”. I now feel like I have closure and am so happy I can give my two new pups a healthy life.

  5. It’s been almost a year now since I rescued my 6 year old Husky Charlie and on the day his owner left him at my job (I’m a dog groomer) I was told he was epileptic. At first it was only on Sundays at 11am every 2 weeks he’d have 1 seizure and then he’d come out of it. The meds his old owner had given me seemed to not be working so we took him to our local VCA they didn’t tell us much as to what was the cause or how to really help him but they have us his 500mg prescription for Zonicimide he takes 2 tablets twice a day so 2000 mg everyday and he still has them
    Recently his episodes have gotten worse lasting he will have the episodes over a span of 3 days every 2 to 3 weeks and the episodes last for 15 minutes once an hour during those 3 days. Sometimes it will stop for a few hours but like today he went 8 hours seizure free and he has just had 2 full episodes since being in my room with me.
    Before he wouldn’t show signs of aggression just mild confusion and the need to pace. His last 3 episodes since mid April he has developed these boughts of aggression whether it’s before or after the seizure he has gone after me seeing as usually I will sit on the floor and talk to him, pet him during the event. Unfortunately today’s aggression was not accompanied by a seizure he was walking Infront of me, stopped, looked back at me and as I went to pass by him he went after me.
    In the year that I have had him he doesn’t act like a normal husky (or what I feel is normal as I see a lot doing what I do) he doesn’t bark, doesn’t pull, most of the time he is sleeping next to me or somewhere close by and has a gentle nonconfrontational attitude toward everything. He doesn’t even react to other dogs.
    I have asked my vets about treatment and how the episodes can be controlled so his life isn’t ruled by his condition but they were at a loss really and only said he’d have to come in for testing and quoted us another $7,000 bill for that testing that may or may not help his condition.
    We’re at a bit of a loss and I still medicate him with the Zonicimide but I’ve almost given up hope on the meds honestly working. He’s my brave boy and I hate to see him go through this or the hospitalization for treatment. I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder a few months after I had brought him home and he’s been there for me as best he could every step of the way and I honestly feel powerless seeing him go through it and his becoming so much worse.

  6. Margit ,

    This is really a very very helpful site/article that you have here. My boy Zeev have been having seizures for the a few months now . he is 17 months old . we just witnessed his third seizure this morning .

    I have most of your articles hear and made sure read every comment too ,so i don’t miss out on any essential /important detail from any other Husky parents.

    MY husky zeev occasionally has a ear twitch sort of thing . His two ears are most of the time standing up , but occasionally his ear twitches and instead of pointing up it points almost horizontally with an angle . This stays for about 20- 40 minutes . He kind of struggles when this happens , trying to rub his ear . I massage the back of his ear and head and sometimes that works and is back to normal again and sometimes he has to take his own time to bring it back to normal.

    Have any one noticed this kind of behavior with your husky . Is this normal , or is this any nerve related issue or anything related to seizure.


    Indu

    • Also , we occasionally notice Zeev having yellow foam vomits early in the morning . We always thought it was because of hunger pangs , he is a very picky eater and never enthusiastically finish his meals .. we have to lure him and keep changing addons/toppings to get him to eat hi food.

      Are the yellow vomits — hunger pangs or anything related to zinc deficiency ?

  7. Hi, great article, I have a malamute bitch, she has just had her 7th seizure 30 minutes ago.
    She’s a giant malamute at least 14 stone ( I can’t pick her up )

    Mika started having seizures about 6 months old, she’s 4 in February.
    It all starts with her vomiting bile,after the bile, the collapse,then the convulsions.

    We have tried to manage this the best we can without medication, we find that if we manage to get some food in her asap to soak the bile up she’s OK.
    We went 18 months without 1, then 2 in the last month.
    Malamute’s are a totally different breed to siberians,we also have a husky and have had 4 huskies previously.
    She’s a very picky eater, sometimes I have to rub ice cream inside her mouth to stimulate her taste buds to get her to feed.
    We cannot leave mika with anyone as they do not know of her condition and how to deal with it.
    On her 3rd seizure I foolishly left my fingers in her mouth and she clamped down resulting in 8 black nails, 14 puncture wounds and 3 months of tetnus injections.

    She is the most amazing dog we have ever had, funny,loving and so clever, knocks the keys in the back door and sits outside the chew cupboard waiting for a treat.

    We know 1 day she won’t come out of it but we soldier on and hope that 1 day they will stop.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! My roommates 10 month old huskie Falcor just had his first seizure Friday and another today. A good friend of mine sent me a link to this article and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am sure tha Jhett is looking down on you and so proud that even to this day your words are helping other owners of these amazing snow dogs❤️

  9. I felt you repeated things too much here and just kept referring to your other articles.
    My other concern, are you a vet or animal neurologist?
    You need to point this out before you even start your discussions, because people are going to want to try what you tell them and can ultimately hurt their dog.
    Your last comment is what really irritated me!!!
    We can be a breed educated person and still not know everything and STOP them from having any problems…. Totally uncalled for in my eyes!!! You pretty much just told people that if they don’t know EVERYTHING about the breed, then they are bad pet owners!

    • Rachel, no where in any of Martgit’s articles does she imply that people are bad pet owners! What is the alternative? She is only giving insight to a problem that isn’t well known amongst this breed. My vet didn’t have a clue! Margit has first hand experience with this breed. Has a possible solution for these poor husky babies. Really what are the options? Meds that shut down their organs and still have seizures but don’t get to the source of the problem??? My Blaze not the same baby mentioned earlier has been suffering every week with a grand mal. Took him to a new vet who works close with this breed and owns them herself gave the same advice as Margit. As far as I’m concerned she actually cares about Blaze’s well being rather than the money in her pocket!!!! I don’t know if your outburst was due to pain of watching your husky going thru seizures or regrettably a loss but this blogsite is giving people help and hope. She doesn’t ever say not take your dog or mention this type of treatment to your vet.Think first before you judge!!

  10. Hello Magrit,
    I had a 5yrs old husky and shes turning 6yrs old this coming June 10,…last early 2am my baby Maya experiencinh seizurws for tje firts time and its a heart breaking while im hugging jere with her pee around.. another seizures again at 6am and it last for 2-3sexonds and we bring her to the vet she diagnos having dysmenorrhea or epilepsy…and another seizures again after going home from the vet and some two more seizures again,.. we confined her to the vet hopital…Do you think that.shes in Zinz deficiency?… how can be treated her wd zinc?.

  11. My husky was diagnosed with airborne allergies after multiple tests. He is 8 yrs and had an ongoing cough for over a yr. He gets hot spots and crusts on his nose. He still has a cough and Hotspot and crusts. I changed his diet to raw meat and acan no fillers…his fur has improved and the crusts on his nose is going but his cough is still present. I started giving him 25 MG gluconate zinc daily for over 2 months and he still coughs and the crust returns on his nose ( though not as bad). He is overweight at 86lbs should I increase the zinc? I give him sardines 3-4 times a week. His raw food contains beef, egg, pumpkin seed, eggshells, vegetables, spinach, a little garlic…80% protein, 20%veggies…am I doing something wrong? I don t know if it’s allergies or zinc deficiencies and I m trying to figure that out. Any advise would be appreciated.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve written a comment under https://www.snowdog.guru/fussy-eater-overeater/ about my dog neurological problems and I wanted to add, that Ezra was diagnosed with the lowest level of B12 ever seen by vet. She was not digesting it at all and she needed to take it later in injections, she is taking them about once a month or two till today. I wonder if it also might be linked with zinc deficiency. I highly advise owners of dogs with seizures, hallucinations or other neurological problems to check the level of this vitamin. Best regards, Barbara

  13. Man so sorry about your husky, that had to be hard. I have two Alaskan Malamutes(cooper and tiller)cooper is 160 lbs and tiller is 130 lbs. The first time tiller had a seizure it scared the hell out of me, it has to be the worst thing to see something you love go through. It just kills me that the vets don’t really have an answer for me.Tiller is 4 years old now and he has one about every 3 months and it hurts me every time. He acts like he can’t catch his breath the his mouth locks up like he throwing up and falls over and does the whole bit. I don’t know if I should but after a bit I get worried and start breathing in his nose and it actually pushes all the mucus out of his throat that was caused by the seizure. I always worry his brain wont get enough oxygen so mouth to nose cpr..lol So I know how hard that must of been for you.I just wish there was a answer for this problem. Thought I would share..ty

  14. This is just like our fur fur! He also was epileptic! He passed away at 7 this past 4th of July. He was on every seizure Med they had. We had just started weening him off phenobarbital. He was on his last day of 1 pill per day and we found him in the yard in grand mal position. Breaks my heart daily, our hearts and home are empty without him. We know the feeling and God bless you!

  15. Thank you so much for all of the time and research you invested in this topic. It was such a relief to read your article and know there are others out there with the same issue. I am so sorry for your loss. It breaks my heart. I have a 2 year old and he’s had 3 grand mal seizures that I’ve witnessed and a partial seizure that lasted for over an hour. It was almost worse than the grand mal because it lasted so long.

    The vet immediately diagnosed him with epilepsy and wanted me to start him on phenobarbital. I’m so reluctant to start this medicine because of the side effects.

    Titan has always been fed a high protein food. But your article is so interesting. I think I am going to try the supplements you listed and see what happens.

    Thank you again for posting this article.

  16. My 3 year old female husky started having seizures a year ago. They now occur about once a month, full seizure as described above with Jhett. I took her for a basic neurological exam, which came back normal. Then, the full court press to pay a ton of money to have a MRI and spinal tap to figure out what the issue may be. I don’t have the thousands of dollars to do that and am looking for what medication to start her on, assuming that the advanced tests would ultimately say this is epilepsy. This is really hard! Any advice would be appreciated.

  17. I’m so sorry to hear about Jhett! I’m in tears reading this at work! My husky/akita has been having fits and I feel so lucky to have stumbled across this page! Thankyou so much for all of this information! I’m going to completely change Luna’s diet after reading this! The last thing I want is for her to pass away due to a seizure!
    I have a question though. Are cereals to be removed from the diet too? I’m looking at the ingredients in dog treats & dentastix etc. and they all contain cereal. Or are these considered ok in moderation?
    I want to try to completely stop her seizures. It’s so terrifying and heartbreaking to watch!
    Thanks again for this article! You will be helping so many people!

  18. I just found your site a couple of days ago and greatly appreciate the research and information you shared concerning seizures. Unfortunately, I was looking for answers a little too late… Last Thursday morning, I brought our Husky and Pyrenees into the house. All appeared normal. About 12:30, my daughter took them both outside for a bathroom stop in the front yard before going into the backyard. While walking, Ari, the Husky, turned and fell off of the rock fence (our yard is elevated) about 5 ft and landed on her hip and side with my daughter still holding the leash. She jumped down to get to Ari and Ari jumped up…thought all was okay. She got the dogs back together, thinking all was well, and started up the steps to the fenced yard. Ari couldn’t go up the steps. So, she brought them both back to the house. She was telling us what happened when Ari started with cluster seizures. She may have had seizures before, but we had not witnessed them. I immediately called our vet and rushed her to him. The seizures were pretty violent in my opinion…one after the other. The vet gave her meds and sedated her. We drove 2 hours to a large city with speciality care. Vet diagnosed her with Idiopathic Epilepsy. I received a call about 3 am that she was being given CPR….within about 15 minutes she was gone.

    The hard thing is that we thought she was healthy. We feed a great, non-grain, organic food…never been to the vet for illness. I think she was “off” when she fell off the wall. She has walked the same spot almost every day for 4 years……Do you think she probably had smaller seizures that we missed? Would the first one be this violent? Looking back, she wasn’t vocal that morning but appeared normal….ate, wanted treats, etc.

    Needless to say, we are heartbroken. Ari was a beautiful girl, so full of life. She turned 4 3 days before she died.

  19. Carol, first let me tell you how very sorry I am to hear that your Husky is having seizures. Sadly, meds control seizures better in some dogs than in others.

    As for suggestions about what you can do, part 1 and 2 of this same article was full of things that you can try with your dog. Have your tried any of the things that I suggested?

    Remove all wheat, corn, and soy out of his diet as they bind to zinc making it further unavailable to the body.

    Add foods naturally high in zinc to his diet. Part 2 of this article gave a whole list of foods high in zinc.

    Try adding 25 – 50 mgs of elemental zinc ( at least three hours after a large meal) daily.

    Try adding kelp and spirulina to his diet.

    Add 1000 mgs of salmon oil to your dogs diet.

    And lastly, talk to your vet about changing your dog’s meds or the dosages of your dog’s meds if they are not working.

    Here is the PDF to all three articles in this Zinc Deficiency Series https://www.snowdog.guru/wp-content/uploads/zincdeficiencyinsleddogs.pdf?4e8813

  20. My 6 yr. Old husky has been on phenabarb and pot bromide for a yr and usually has a seizure every 2 to 4 weeks…..today hes had 3 in 24 hours….hes very disoriented after , walking into walls, falling over….i just dont know what to do anymore. ..i hate seeing him like this…..breaks my heart….seems he has them more often in the winter months…..any suggestions

  21. Suppositories are an acceptable way of adding medication during a seizure. While we want to avoid using medication whenever possible, sometimes it is called for especially when the seizure is very long. It is important to protect damage to the brain during seizures and prolonged seizing causes oxygen deprivation. That is how my Jhett died. Do whatever you need to protect sweet little Mouse. It sounds like you are doing an exemplary job. Thank you for being such wonderful caregivers for this special little girl <3

  22. oh can I add we use diazepam suppository to control and reduce the severity of fits when they occur\(only when they go over 3-5mins) , even though we do not like it it does seem to reduce and help the recovery time and subdue temperatures but it is a risk based gamble and we would rather be drug free. we are early days yet though with the new diet.

    We also keep high protein/value treats on hand as we can see the tells and on a bad day can run (walk fast) her home as she is just going into one (walking fast or running slowly with a open hand of carob treats to keep her distracted), once home a full fit rarely happens, distraction if signs are caught early is a key we have found.

  23. Thank you so much for taking in this furry little Angel. Thank you for sticking with her even with the medical problems. I am so very sorry to hear about the seizures. I know how devastating they are for everyone involved.

    I am so happy to hear that the change in diet has helped your dog. Very often using food as the “medicine” is a very viable and successful solution to the problem. Keep tweaking and adjusting the protocol to support her changing needs. Bringing a dog back to balance is a process and there will be adjustments to be made to accommodate her shifting health requirements. Just take your cues from your dogs. She knows what her body needs to be well. And lets hope, that in time, she can be completely seizure free. I have seen it happen 🙂

    And thank you for your very kind words of support. I am truly happy to be able to help all Snow Dogs and their owners <3

  24. Hi Margit,

    We have a rescue Sib(7 years now), she was ok for the first year then all of a sudden full gran mal fits.. we changed walking routes collars harnesses food and had her mri’d and blood panel work and the vets did little or nothing to help. They wanted her on phen and bromide and we refused as it has such bad side effects.
    Since we have read your article and taken it all on board our girl is much better, her moods are more balanced and she is now eating well as well as having ess fits even though they do still occur but we can manage them.
    Thank you so much for your investigation of this disorder and we feel for your loss. Seeing a fit is harrowing losing your friend and mate is devastating but you have found a positive from the whole ordeal and we thank you for that.
    Will keep you posted,
    FYI to snowdog owners in UK.. Vets will always go idiopathic option first they really don’t care and just want money which is sad.
    Thank You so much Margit.

  25. Candace, when I see a dog behave around food like that, and you have ruled out it being just a food based resource guarding issue, then the answer usually is that their body is telling them that they are not getting sufficient nutrition from their food. Sometimes it means that they needs higher protein and/or more fat. Sometimes it means that their body is trying to play catch up ( if the dog was poorly fed before but is being better fed now). In any case, the lack of sufficient Zinc can be responsible for problems with digestion and nutrient absorption. Please do continue to add nutrient rich foods to this dog’s diet and extra Zinc to see if this helps with the food aggression issues.

    And thank you for your very kind words of support, Candace. I am very happy to be able to help all Snow Dogs and their owners 🙂

  26. I just want to thank you so much for all you do for Siberians. I am a rescue with 14 Sibes and my Luna a white woolly girl i took in when she was 5 has monthly seizures, which are short lived. Sometimes 2 times in a day, but that is rare. She had lost 7 lbs in the year before I got her. I thought that was due to the family moving, having a young baby and them giving up a dog friend. Also she was a picky eater. I focused on food and put her on a grain-free lamb based diet that I have all my dogs on, supplemented with chicken, chicken stock and lamb cookies. She has been on medication since she was one and I always wondered about her crazy aggression issues with food. She eats very slowly, but when a treat is involved she becomes aggressive not in the normal sense but she is like crazed and can even bit your fingers when giving a treat. And in the evening she comes in howling and demanding a treat – almost like she is ravenous maybe there is an imbalance in her body at that time even though I feed her 2 times a day. I knew there was more that I could do but never found a resource. I again thank you so much for all this additional information relating to zinc to share with my adopters and owners of Sibeirans in my network.

    • Hey Candace,
      Thought I would let you know that Rigby has a zinc deficiency. We have finally found the right combination of supplements to keep him from developing the blisters, etc that form around his eyes and nose. He is definitely on high doses of zinc along with Virbac Allerderm Efa-z Plus, Welactin 3, Proanthozone Derm, nutrived zinpro, and Apoquel for itching. It took over a year working with Dr. A from Valley Vet/Squibnocket. He used to rub his face raw and scratch and bite 24/7. Anyway, he is a happy camper and I am glad his zinc levels are stabilized so hopefully he wont have problems with seizures. The vet does blood tests to monitor his zinc levels.
      By the way, congratulatikns on the election!

  27. Oh Marilyn, I am so very sorry to hear that Blaze has passed. I do believe that Jhett, Blaze, and all the other epi dogs are all seizure free and playing together on the other side.

    Run free, sweet Blaze, and suffer no more.

    Once again, Marilyn, I send my love and prayers to you for your loss. 🙁

  28. Margit, I lost my sweet boy Blaze on September 14 th he was only 3 and a half, I wrote to u back in July about him and thought u would like to know….. I think Jhett and Blaze are probably the best of friends at the rainbow bridge now. I am so lost without him he was my best friend.

  29. This made me cry. For years I wondered about the mystery of my husky boy Jake dying so suddenly. He started to have seizures when he was about 5 but they were so infrequent that the Dr kept saying ‘let’s wait and see how it progresses…’ but it never got beyond more than once every few months. Then one morning he seemed out of sorts, just not normal and I could tell right away something was very wrong. We rushed him to the Vet and in just that short time, maybe an hour or two, he had passed away at only 7 1/2 yrs young. His organs starting failing one by one once he got to the vet. They insisted he must have gotten into a poison of some sort but we knew that wasn’t the case. They were at a loss and so were we. Reading this article now I see that he may actually have had some seizure activity on occasion before the actual Gran Mal seizures first started. I became overly cautious, perhaps, when we got our next husky boy, Nobi. Nobi got the crusty inflammations around his mouth and had always always vomited bile. He was a picky eater as well. With him, i had changed doctors. He was actually diagnosed with an immune disorder which this new Dr said was genetic. He was also diagnosed with zinc deficiency as well after we had the area around his mouth biopsied. What I didn’t know, and maybe the Dr either, was that he probably needed a lifelong zinc supplement and a no grain diet. We would stop the zinc when the inflammations disappeared. We didn’t know any better. And so he was off and on zinc until he was about 10 yrs old. Again, a new Dr and this one changed his diet along with zinc supplement for while and that helped him so much with his bile vomiting and some seemingly allergy related issues. He never did get the crusty inflammations again but he did get cancer at 13. It was a horrible cancer on the outside of his body where the fur and skin were gone and the cancer was all exposed. I feel this may have been related to his zinc and immune disorder. Thank you so much for your diligence in finding answers. Way back then there was no info. Not even 10 yrs ago was there the info that could have helped us and many like us. I do get a bit of ‘peace of mind’ now knowing we were and are not alone. We now have a husky girl and I’ll be sure to keep her on track with zinc. While she doesn’t exhibit any signs now I hope not to see any in the future either. Again, thank you for this. I can’t say it enough.

    • Karen, my heart breaks for you knowing what you went through with your dogs. This is precisely why I do what I do on this page. I don’t want anyone else to go through the struggle of finding the information on how best to support the needs of our Snow Dogs. I definitely want to spare people the heartache of having to watch their dog go through seizure after seizure. And sadly for us, most Allopathic Vets will not understand how to treat our dogs. They simply lack the specialized training to know that nearly all the health problems they see in northern breed dogs can be traced back to a zinc deficiency.

      Thank you for your wonderful feedback, Karen. It helps me to know that what I do really does help Snow Dogs and their owners. 🙂

      • Hi my Siberian has idiopathic head trimmers And the vet says they are nothing to worry about that it happens and some breeds. As I read this article tonight I’m seeing that it could be a zinc deficiency. Did you please let me know where I could buy zinc at to give my Siberian Husky? She’s a small Siberian she’s three years old and she’s only 34 pounds. She’s my baby and I worry about her a lot. My friend Siberians having the same issues and we’re both just searching for answers. I’m not believing that and I believe there’s more that we can do to stop these we both have video’s both of our Siberians having these. And you please get back with me and let me know where we could buy zinc at or what we should do? I have her on a high-protein diet right now I just switched her to it about two weeks ago. She shakes her head a lot and does not have any here objections so that kind of makes me wonder too. And then she jerks her hind legs at night and will just kick uncontrollably a couple times . Please let me know what I could do thank you my name is Colette

  30. Marilyn, first let me tell you how very sorry I am to hear that your sweet boy is having seizures. Hopefully by implementing some of the strategies that I have laid out in these three articles, you will be able to better manage Blaze’s condition. And thank you too for your very kind words of support for my Jhett. As much as I hate how this all ended for him, I really do hope that his condition and his passing are able to have a higher purpose other than the ending of a life far too soon. If you feel that you need any help managing Blaze’s condition please do not hesitate to stop by on my site and ask questions.

  31. WOW! You hit the nail on the head with that article and gave me some valuable info. My boy Blaze who is 100% sibby started having seizures when he was a year and a half he is almost 3 and a half. Your description of grand mals before during and after were spot on for Blaze I felt like you were talking about us!!!! A friend sent me this article because he is having a least 1 seizure a week, everyone makes me sicker because i fear it might be his last, my friend knows i’ve been searching for answers for months. Meds are not helping, hes currently on Potassium Bromide 1000 mg once daily and Phenobarbitol 98.6 mg 1 1/2 twice daily. Blaze has all the before during and after charteristics u mentioned except for the sleeping for a few days afterward after a short nap hes himself again. I felt nauseous when I read about your baby Jhetts last seizure, I can not imagine the pain and the helplessness you felt, its so horrible watching your baby have a seizure and not being able to help. so hugs and prayers to you and thank u again for some new insight on his seizures.

  32. These articles about seizures are really interesting to me Margit because although my girl Macy(who was a Dobie/GSD 8 year old mix) passed away from seizures almost a year before your beloved boy. Since our boy Bradley is a husky mix I want to keep him as healthy as possible. Watching a dog with seizures is one of life’s scary things to endure. Thanks again.

    • Jean, if we support their zinc levels and remove grains from their diet, then we can have a much better chance for them to have a good healthy life. Thank you, for your feedback. <3

      • Our husky, ruby, is 12, and started having seizures when visiting the vet. Never had any before. He has tested her blood and can’t understand what is causing them. Just recently I took her to her groomer, and she seized there too. They are grans maul and she comes out of them quickly. You would never know she had one. Perfectly normal behavior after. Even more energetic. I’m stymied.

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